It was a couple of years ago when I visited Hawaii. We visited the Volcanoes National Park and if you have never been to the big island of Hawaii, I have to tell you, it is incredible. So much of the island is covered by enormous lava beds, with smaller pockets of lush jungles and beautiful beaches and historical sites.
What struck me about the lava beds were the solitary shrubs struggling to take root and reach out for water and sustenance in such a hot and inhospitable place to grow. I actually took a photos of these shrubs since they reminded me so much of the struggle people experience when suffering from depression, thoughts of suicide, low self-esteem, and so many other difficulties. During that time, a friend back home was struggling with some significant mental health challenges. Even though I was far away, it was amazing to watch her reach out for connection and support that kept her grounded and safe. It made me think of these shrubs that were by themselves, but nearby there were other shrubs with the same struggles and reaching out in all directions and eventually, may touch another.
I recently heard someone speaking about isolation. He reminded the listeners that society punishes wrong-doers through placing them in isolation, yet people constantly punish themselves through self-isolation that only increases those negative feelings and the accompanying thoughts and health concerns. Now, the shrubs reaching out and digging their roots into those cracks and tiny amounts of soil to continue to grow and reach their neighbors are amazing; but, what was most inspiring to me was those areas on the island where those shrubs had grown and reached and integrated with each other years ago to become a jungle.
So, I would like to encourage those struggling with feelings of depression, thoughts of suicide, feeling hopeless, and isolated to keep reaching out, keep digging in for your roots to find purchase. There will be those who reach back. Healing comes through relationship with others and there may be others nearby wanting to find someone to grow into that jungle, community, family.
And if you are so discouraged that you can’t see a way forward, please contact a caring professional. I am available for individuals in crisis and can be reached at (425) 429-7673. If it is a life-threatening emergency, please call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention line at 1-800-273-8255. There are people who are here for you.